By Thompson Yamput
The Nigerian Women Trust Fund’s (NWTF) ‘Gender and Election Watch (GEW) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to sanction erring staff and maintan of public trust
Mrs Brenda Ibijoke, the NWTF Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Founder, Gender and Election Watch (GEW) Room ElectHER and ElectHER Election Hub, said that NWTW, though impressed with the peaceful, free and successful conduct of the election by INEC, there were reservations on the way and manner some of its staff compromised the system.
“It is crucial that INEC hands over any official or Ad-hoc staff involved in electoral malpractices to security agencies as a deterrent, in accordance with the amended Electoral Act 2022 to maintain public trust.
‘The election is over, but the public is keenly watching and waiting to see what will be done to those INEC officials that compromised the system on Saturday, Nov. 11 in Kogi.
“NWTF deployed 50 observers across the state while ElectHER deployed a visual documentation (photography and videography) team across several Local Government Areas (LGAs) and made some observations, ” she said
According to her, GEW observation revealed a massive turnout at some polling units while others remained minimal despite the late arrival of INEC officials and materials at most polling units across the state.
The CEO expressed gladness that the turnout of women was particularly encouraging, particularly at PU 22-12-01-098, located in the open space beside RCCG Lokogoma Phase 1, comprising at least 50 per cent of the 126 total votes cast at the polling units.
“Our gladness was simply because of a fact that a democratic electoral process requires female participation not just as electorate but candidates of political parties desiring lead and change the narrative.
“In most polling units where GEW observed, there were queues and priority voting for women, elderly and People With Disabilities (PWDs).
“But disappointedly, there was minimal presence and participation of the PWDs, which may be attributed to factors such as the location of polling units, the lack of ramps, and the absence of dedicated assistants at the polling units for their support,” the CEO said.
As a solution, she urged INEC to provide dedicated polling units for PWDs during any given future election in the country.
Ibijoke lamented the situation where some NWTF observers were attacked and intimidated by party agents at several polling units, especially at PU 22-20-01-006 in Isanlu Kotun, where an observer’s phone was seized, and their identification tags were stolen.
The Founder said: “Intimidation of any observer during an election is antithetical to democratic values and must be stopped immediately.
“While we commend the security operatives for the demonstration of high professionalism at maintaining peace in Kogi election for the first time, security agents must remain impartial to protect the integrity of the Nigerian electoral process,” she said.
According to her, the ‘Gender Observation Center’ is a joint initiative of the NWTF ‘Gender and Election Watch (GEW) Room’, and ElectHER’s ‘ElectHER Election Hub’ aimed at observing the Nov. 11 off-cycle election in Kogi from a gender perspective. (NAN)